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Missing Girl's Family Outraged

The family of a 5-year-old, missing for more than a week, say police told them to conduct their own search for the girl and her mother.
/ Source: NBCLosAngeles.com

The family of Ruby Bustamante, the 5-year-old girl recently rescued more than a week after surviving a car crash that killed her mother, is outraged at the way police handled their case.

During a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Rose Lopez, a paternal aunt and family spokeswoman, expressed outrage over the way authorities handled family members' disappearance.

Lopez gave a timeline of events during the press conference. She said that Norma and Ruby had been missing since Sunday, April 4.

Child Survives More Than Week In Ravine

Norma's mother Rosemary Modine called the Indio Police Department to report her daughter and granddaughter missing Monday, according to Lopez.

Lopez said the Indio police had "sort of dismissed the case" and allegedly told Rosemary that Norma "probably had to just get away".

Lopez added that on several occasions family members went to follow-up on the case and submitted additional information to the police, but she said police were "very negative to the family".

"We expected them to start a search party right away, but they said they didn't have enough officers to do this," said Lopez.

Lopez added, "We then asked officers if we had to start the search for them on our own, to which they replied, 'yes'."

A few days later, the family checked with police on the status of the case, and were reportedly told the officer handling the case wouldn't be available until Monday, April 12, and that this officer was the only officer who could assist them, according to Lopez.

Lopez said the family took it upon themselves to create flyers and contact local television stations.

Indio Chief of Police Mark Miller defended his department's actions and told NBC 4's Mary Parks that they did all they could and treated this case as they do any other missing person's case.

Lopez stated that on Tuesday morning, April 13, detectives contacted Modine and told her they had located Norma's body. Lopez added that police told Modine that Norma and Ruby were involved in a car accident, and that Ruby had survived, but Norma had probably passed away a few days ago.

Lopez added, "If the search would've been conducted immediately, Norma possibly could've survived."

A coroner's report released Wednesday afternoon revealed that Norma died almost instantly after the crash.

Lopez said the family has questions, such as why there was only one detective assigned to the case, and why the family wasn't offered any assistance from law enforcement officials.

Then Lopez, speaking solely on her behalf said, "This is an outrage ... someone needs to be held accountable for this. There is no excuse for this young mother to be left out there to die, and for a little girl to have had to go through such a horrific ordeal."

The family has set up a benefit account at Riverside County Credit Union on behalf of Norma and Ruby.

To make a donation, or for more information, contact (909) 571-5365.

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